The Very First Sit-In At A Greensboro Woolworth's, 1960 (Photos)

By | March 18, 2019

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Demonstrators holding signs protest in front of an F.W. Woolworth store in Harlem to oppose lunch counter discrimination practiced in Woolworth stores in Greensboro, Charlotte, and Durham, North Carolina. (Getty Images)

On February 1, 1960, the first "sit-in" took place in Greensboro, North Carolina, and this demonstration by four courageous young African-American men proved a pivotal moment in the Civil Rights Movement. The "Greensboro Four," all students at the nearby North Carolina Agricultural and Technical College, sat down at the lunch counter at the Woolworth’s store in Greensboro -- and as expected, they were not served. In fact, they were told to leave because the lunch counter refused to serve blacks. The Greensboro Four touched off a series of sit-ins and non-violent protests that helped to eliminate segregation policies ahead of the Civil Rights Act. Let’s look at some rare photos from the Greensboro Woolworth Sit-In that started it all. 

The Students Were Protesting Segregation

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In the Jim Crow South in the 1960s, laws were still being enforced that allowed businesses to refuse to serve African-Americans. And if they did, it was often in specially-designated areas that kept them away from their white customers. As a nationwide company, Woolworth's had a policy that prohibited African Americans from sitting at the lunch counter.